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In the sixth week of Russia’s war in Ukraine, atrocities took place. What next? | News about the war between Russia and Ukraine

As Russian forces prepared to move from Kyiv to the Eastern Donbass region in the sixth week of the war in Ukraine, the towns and villages they evacuated were found littered with the corpses of tortured and maimed civilians.

In the city of Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, the mayor estimated that 300 people were killed.

Reporters found dozens of bodies in two mass graves, and residents gave Al Jazeera horrific descriptions of harassment and death threats.

Human Rights Watch says it has documented war crimes by Russian forces in the Kyiv, Kharkiv and Chernihiv regions of northern Ukraine, including a case of multiple rapes and two executions. One of those executions took place in Bucha on March 4th, the group said.

(Al Jazeera)

“You may remember that I was criticized for calling [Russian President Vladimir] “Putin is a war criminal,” US President Joe Biden said on April 4. “Well, the truth about it – you saw what happened in Bucha. That justifies him – he is a war criminal. “

Russia’s defense and foreign ministries have condemned the war crimes reports.

“The videos cannot be trusted, as our specialists from the Ministry of Defense have found signs of video falsification and various forgeries … We will demand that many world leaders not rush into statements, baseless accusations,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. on April 4. .

The United States, France and Germany have expelled dozens of Russian diplomats in response to alleged atrocities. Other members of the European Union have followed suit.

The UN Security Council has failed to criticize Russia for being a permanent member with a veto. On April 5, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky advised the UN Security Council to remove Russia or dissolve itself.


Cities around Kyiv have been evacuated as part of Russia’s plan to focus its firepower on the eastern part of the country.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on March 30 that about one-fifth of Russian forces besieging Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy in the north were withdrawing.

Retired Greek lieutenant general and security expert Andreas Iliopoulos told Al Jazeera that he believes Russia will soon take over the port of Odessa to the west, ending the conquest of the Ukrainian coast and turning the Black Sea into Russia. lake ”.

“The landing with the landing to capture Odessa is an easy matter for Russia, which has the upper hand in the Black Sea,” he said.

Three Russian rockets reportedly hit an oil refinery on the outskirts of the city on April 1, which may have been the first volley of the battle of Odessa. The attack came during a visit by the Greek foreign minister to the city’s large ethnic Greek minority.

Iliopoulos believes that part of this second phase of operations will be “the conquest of the areas east of the Dnieper River to encircle Ukrainian forces there and force them to surrender… As long as Ukrainian forces remain there, they will be a Russian target.”

Russia’s ultimate goals in Ukraine are gradually becoming clear, Iliopoulos told Al Jazeera.

“Russia’s strategic goals will be to divide Ukraine along the Dnieper River, with Russia occupying the eastern side. It will seek to cut off Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea and take over nine of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear power plants, “said Iliopoulos, a former Marine who until recently was deputy commander of the Greek army.

“[Russia] then there will be the richest part of Ukraine, which contains all its natural gas and metals for export, and then it will sit down to negotiate. But I don’t think he’ll return anything. You don’t sign what you won with blood. “

“Putin is misinformed”

Russia recognized the eastern regions of Ukraine Luhansk and Donetsk as independent republics on February 21, days before the invasion began.

More than a month later, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told state television that the strategic importance of Russia’s campaign in Ukraine was to restore Moscow on an equal footing with Washington and Beijing on the world stage.

“The unipolar world is irrevocably retreating into the past and a multipolar world is being born,” Lavrov said on March 31st. “There will be no ruler in this new reality. All key countries with decisive influence on the world economy and politics will have to agree … No one on Earth will be considered a second-rate player.

American and Western observers have expressed doubts about whether the Russian military can achieve these goals.

“We believe Putin is misinformed by his advisers about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is crippled by sanctions because his top advisers are afraid to tell him the truth,” White House Director of Communications Kate Bedingfield said. in front of reporters on March 31.

Meanwhile, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development predicts that the Russian economy will shrink by 10 percent this year, and the Ukrainian – by 20 percent.

Their forecast was to increase by 3% and 3.5%, respectively. He believes that growth will fall to a meager 1.7 percent in the territories where it operates in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean, compared to the original forecast of 4.2 percent.

Strengthening the ruble

On March 31, Putin said that countries that sanction Russia must pay for their gas imports in rubles.

“If such payments [in roubles] are not made, we will consider this a default on the part of the buyers, with all the ensuing consequences. “No one is selling us anything for free, and we will not do charity work either – that is, existing contracts will be suspended,” Putin said.

Although the April 1 deadline was set, the Kremlin later extended it by several weeks.

“Payment for real [gas] the deliveries that are currently being made do not need to be made today, but must be made at the end, in the second half of April or even in the beginning of May, “Peskov told reporters.

Lavrov explained the reasons for the ruble-denominated sales during a visit to New Delhi on April 1st.

“We do not want to depend on a system that can be closed at any time. And we do not want to depend on a system that has masters who can steal your money overnight, “Lavrov said, referring to the freezing of Russian central bank assets stored in Western banks and the suspension of Russian institutions from the global interbank system. SWIFT.

The second reason may be to support the value of the ruble, which has depreciated under the pressure of sanctions.

In the months leading up to the invasion, Russia cut gas sales to Europe to the lowest possible level without violating long-term contracts. He is now threatening to trigger default clauses that allow him to legally suspend deliveries under these contracts.

Interrupting gas flows would be a shock to Europe, which depended on Russia for a third of its gas last year. The European Commission has said it will take the EU a year to replace two-thirds of those imports.

Germany, Russia’s largest customer in the EU, has refused to pay for its gas in rubles, while Russia-friendly Hungary, also a member of the bloc, has said it will meet the demand.

On April 6, Germany updated its Renewable Energy Act to make the country’s electricity production fossil-fuel-free by 2035. Its previous goal was 2050.